What Is the Difference Between a Class Action vs. a Mass Tort?
When there is the potential for large numbers of people to have suffered damages at the hands of the same defendants, an attorney may pursue either a class action lawsuit or a mass tort. There are many similarities between these two legal actions, and so it can be easy to mix the two of them up. However, there are also crucial differences.
When you consult a class action lawyer at our firm, he or she can determine whether it is more appropriate to file a class action lawsuit or a mass tort for your particular situation.
Understanding the similarities between class action lawsuits and mass torts
Before you can understand the differences between these two legal actions, it can be helpful to know how they are similar. Both of these types involve more than one plaintiff. A plaintiff is a person who is suing another party, called the defendant. In both a class action lawsuit and a mass tort, the plaintiffs sue the same defendant(s).
A third similarity is that these two legal proceedings were designed to limit the total number of lawsuits filed against the common defendants. Because multiple plaintiffs can join together to sue the same defendant, there is no need for many separate lawsuits to be filed.
Identifying the differences between class action lawsuits and mass torts
The primary difference between class action lawsuits and mass torts is the way in which the plaintiffs are managed. Mass torts do not typically follow legal procedures that might be considered standard. They are generally pursued when the plaintiffs haven’t met the criteria for filing a class action lawsuit. These criteria include having a number of plaintiffs who have grievances that are too different from each other, or who have suffered different types of harm. Often, mass torts consist of smaller numbers of plaintiffs compared to class action lawsuits.
Most notably, mass torts treat each plaintiff as an individual, rather than dealing with a group of plaintiffs as a whole. In a mass tort, each plaintiff (or their lawyer) is responsible for proving the allegations and damages.
In contrast, in a class-action lawsuit, plaintiffs are typically sorted into different classes, based on the type of harm they have suffered. Each class has a representative who is responsible for representing the best interests of that class of plaintiffs. For legal purposes, each class is treated like a single plaintiff.
When a class action lawyer files a lawsuit, each plaintiff must be notified of the lawsuit and given the option to opt out if they wish to obtain their own counsel. Each member must also be notified of their role and legal rights with regard to the class action lawsuit.
Contact a class action lawyer in New York or New Jersey
At the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C., you’ll find an active class action practice headed up by our class action lawyer, Gary S. Graifman. He has decades of experience working on class action lawsuits regarding securities and consumer fraud. We bring all class action lawsuits on a contingency basis, allowing you to receive the benefit of accomplished legal guidance and representation without risk.
Contact a class action lawyer today to discuss your legal rights and options for recourse. We proudly represent individuals throughout New York and New Jersey.